RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – April 22, 2015

Claudia Serea

Questions for the Holy Ghost

Did she say yes?

And were you gentle
when you descended like dawn
upon a closed tulip?

Was she ashamed
when she opened her petals
just a little?

Was she afraid?

Did she ask why?
Why me?

Or was she happy
and humbled to be chosen
to wear her pain proudly,

a necklace of fire
around her neck?

Did you lie next to her
without a word, knowing
this cannot be undone?

And did you tell her
her son will die a violent death
to save some strangers?

And still, she said yes?

Knowing all,
how history unfolds,

would you do it again
for us?

Would she?

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –

WCW – Amy King

Amy King

Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 7 p.m.

Williams Center for the Arts
One Williams Plaza, Rutherford NJ

Plus the words of William Carlos Williams
and open readings from the floor

Is it possible to write something visceral by distorting grammar into a new language? Find out at May’s Williams Reading, when the Red Wheelbarrow presents Amy King, our featured poet for the month. From such a successful poet, you might be surprised to hear such daring and challenging work.

Of I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press), John Ashbery describes Amy King’s poems as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.” Safe was one of Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011. King teaches Creative Writing at SUNY Nassau Community College and serves on the Executive Board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

King joins the ranks of Ann Patchett, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson and Pearl Buck as the winner of the 2015 WNBA Award (Women’s National Book Association). She was also honored by The Feminist Press as one of the “40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism” awardees, and she received the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.

Contact: John Barrale –

Your mouth is full of noise and I live the anomaly.
That’s why I’m currently drinking. And making more
fuckworthy art. Because the rest is truly useless.
I cut myself and no one will recall the time the poet cut
her flesh or ripped her heart’s skin to tell them something.
Our limits may not be expandable, but before you say,
“Blood and sinew,” remember you’re making a mistake.
We are not edges of limbs or the heart’s smarts only.
We are kiss times kiss with tree-lined lungs
(yes, we are the fucking trees) that sprout with purveyors
of knowledge

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – April 15, 2015

John Barrale

Cat in the Moon

The moon is curled up in the sky.
Tonight she is African, a leopard
with a tail of clouds.

I detect a smile on her golden face.

Is it because she knows
I’d leave it all for her?

Sexy cat. I smell rain.
Your cloud tail swishes yes.
Let’s get wet and romp
in the night sky jungle.

Are you hungry?

One by one and real slow,
I can feed you the small animals
that hide in my soul.

* * *

The Cat in the Moon wakes me
by reaching under the covers
and wiggling my toe.

Let’s hunt, she purrs.

I take her paw
and slip like a ghost
through the grass.

We catch and eat ten mice.

Now you know where the little ones hide,
she says.

In the morning, I remember everything
and regret nothing.

* * *

She is so bright, just to look at her
makes my eyes hurt.

Unhurried, she hunts me.
I am the mouse cut cold.

Her paws
fill the night.

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –

GV – A Look at Neptune and a Jack Bruce Tribute

The Magic Circle returns to GainVille Café in Rutherford, NJ on Friday, April 24 for the launch of ANTON YAKOVLEV’s new book of poetry Neptune Court.  Anton has a poem forthcoming in The New Yorker and has been published in The Rutherford Red Wheelbarrow, Instigatorzine, and other publications.

Our musical feature will be a tribute to the late great bassist JACK BRUCE, by frequent Magic Circle performer VICTORIA WARNE (The Victoria Warne Band) and poet/musician MARK FOGARTY, plus special guest CATHY VITA and a Victoria original written to be debuted this evening! .

The Red Wheelbarrow Poets’ Bring-Your-A-Game open mic will follow, with generous reading times.

17 Ames Ave, 7 PM.
$7 donation includes coffee/tea and dessert.
(201) 507-1800

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – April 8, 2015

Janet Kolstein

An Early Spring Fog

The swirling blankness
is a resting place,
an excuse,
the cadence of a slow waltz.

I wonder how the fog seduces
with her chilly hand,
her command for silence.

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – Mar 25, 2015

Zorida Mohammed

Which Ordinarily Are Not Gaudy At All

I saw what looked like a mass of gaudy
apple blossoms, which ordinarily are not gaudy at all,
or white magnolia petals
under a small tree at the side walk.
But all it was,
was someone taking to a pile of snow
and trampling it around
until it made a circle almost,
resembling fallen blossoms.

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – Mar 18, 2015

Mark Fogarty


I’m in Couer d’Alene, must have been the meeting
of the multifamily housing developers,
and I just stepped out of the hotel
to see stormclouds over the mountains.

I had lost my sunglasses in Spokane,
where I had a cocktail in a formal hotel lobby
with a woman from an Indian version of the Magic Flute.
Well, I didn’t have a cocktail, but I enjoyed the way
she enjoyed her drink out of the heat of the summer sun.

I remember the Julyamsh pow wow, looking for Francis, the emcee.
The woman’s daughter called this place “the land of Francis.”
There were vendor tables, drum groups, arbors for shade,
a place for the horses and riders who rode in, and a campground.
The shawl dancers must have been wilting
in the hallucinatory heat, but they wouldn’t let on.
I’ll stay out here with you, forswear
the air conditioning of the raceway.

Mozart’s Indian flutes play coolness on even the hottest day.
They didn’t have any green-tinged sunglasses,
so I bought, for the first time, a pair of rose ones.

I didn’t see Francis the whole of that shadowless day,
didn’t meet the emperor of his own gaudy realm.
When I left, though, someone was standing by the exit
in the red and white weaves of the afternoon, smiling.
“You must be Francis,” I said.

Lake Couer d’Alene is one of the beauty spots of the world.
After they invented cars, but before they built the bridges,
people would try to drive across the frozen lake in winter.
You can see the ruins of the Duesenbergs and Model Ts
if you can get down to the bottom.

I know a way.

I hate it when the sun deserts me while I’m traveling.
I put on the rose-colored glasses anyway.
Half the sky is filled with the fists of the thunderheads.
I could tell you a story or two about multifamily housing.


The following article was originally published at

A grand entrance at Julyamsh

Mark Fogarty
The Julyamsh pow wow dancers enter the arena five and six abreast in blazes of color – the men revolving like slow kaleidoscopes and the women stately and proud, moving slowly to the steady heartbeat and insistent vocals of lead drum Black Lodge. They keep dancing in until there are hundreds of them in the infield of the Post Falls, Idaho race track, in a long brilliant horseshoe that throws back to where they entered.

I’ve missed the sensational horse and rider entrance, the decorated ponies and their riders galloping up to the review stand and back out again, but the Grand Entry of dancers is in itself an awesome and emotional event.

Though it is 100 degrees and the sun is bearing down from a thin blue Idaho sky, none of the dancers, from the oldest to the youngest, shows any discomfort or gives any signal how hot it must be under their bright and vivid outfits, the feathers, the bustles, the leggings, the jingles.

The Coeur d’Alene tribe, whose summer encampment this is, has come back to its traditional homeland for this celebratory weekend. I can sense a palpable feeling of joy in the air, a happiness that goes beyond their traditional July hunting and fishing meetings (and later July 4 celebrations).

They are reclaiming lost territory, coming back into their traditional place and strength. And the dancers, from near and far, seem to respond to this. In their prayerful regalia, in their quickfooted pride and strength, in their obliviousness to the heat, they are wonderful and beautiful.

Master of Ceremonies Dale Old Horn proudly shows off each group as it passes the review stand and the drum tents. There are the Eagle Staff bearer, the American and Canadian flag bearers, a veteran with a POW-MIA banner, the Head Man and Head Woman dancers (Spike Draper, New Mexico; Dine, six-time Julyamsh dance champion; and Tisa Pinkman, Nez Perce), and Marcy Williams, Miss Julyamsh. Then parading past are the elders, Golden Age dancers, Northern and Southern Traditional dancers from Oklahoma and the Northern Plains, Grass dancers, Women’s Traditional dancers, Men’s Fancy Feather dancers, Women’s Fancy Shawl dancers. Old Horn is especially fond and proud of the oldest and the youngest of the dancers.

As the opening ceremonies begin, rafts of umbrellas spring up in the stands to stymie the sun, and a stiff wind whips around the American flags and ribbons that decorate the pow wow grounds like displays of living energy. There are words from the tribal chair, Ernie Stensgar, an Honor song, a Flag song, acknowledgement of VIPs, and the spectacular feather pickup that starts the dance competition.

Here, in a Northern Plains tradition, four veterans in regalia make a square around a feather placed on the ground. They dance in place for what seems to be a very long time, the tension building, and then they make three exquisite passes before one of them finally picks up the feather.

Though the dancers are uncomplaining on the sunny field, I am not as durable. Retreating to the air conditioning of the interior grandstand, I see the pow wow ground laid out before me.

The horseshoe of the arena is surrounded by several other semicircles, the first made up of reviewing and spectator stands. Around them are wedges of booths, craft vendors to the left and food vendors to the right, plying such traditional pow wow foods as frybread, Indian tacos, curly fries, elephant ears, corn dogs and buffalo wings. Loosely attached to the proceedings are the tents, tipis and trailers of the encampment.

A long red streamer whips around in the hypnotic wind, and in the hot trance of the day I can see that beyond the prosaic greyhound track that has been so changed for a short time it’s easy to imagine a natural horseshoe of surrounding land that runs back to the framing, heart-stopping mountains of Idaho. The perfection of it dawns on me slowly- the semicircles of the pow wow ground fit into the larger, natural one like coins into a slot.

And the perfection extends, generously, beyond the enduring dancers working and blending into the clarity of a spectacular Idaho summer afternoon. It extends to each of us there, no matter what background or condition, no matter from how near or far away.

We all have our place in a beautiful universe, and it is a good day to be alive.

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –

RWB Workshop Poem of the Week – Mar 11, 2015

Milton Ehrlich


Executioner of my soul,
you once were my phantom of perfection.
Now my heart no longer somersaults
at the sight of your curvaceous body,
and my toes no longer curl at your embrace.

Recalcitrant lady, I never mastered
the push-me-pull-me theme of your drama.
You never could decide if I should stay or go.

You never stopped talking about your turmoil
when I yearned for stillness to reign.

Was it all a dream when I drummed on pots
and slapped a tambourine while you danced
the fandango with snapping castanets?

I urged you not to be afraid of the dark.
You wasted time searching for omens
that flattened the brio of our romance.
No omen has more wisdom than the heart.

I shield my eyes from no longer
seeing you as my world.

And, thanks for reminding me,
not to forget to die.

Blog –
Facebook –
Twitter –

%d bloggers like this: